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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS | WORLD SERIES REPORT

Pettitte Preoccupied With Dad's Health

October 18, 1998|BILL PLASCHKE

Andy Pettitte's struggles for the Yankees in the American League championship series--he was battered for six runs in 4 2/3 innings in a Game 3 loss to the Cleveland Indians--may have involved more than just bad pitching.

A haggard Pettitte conceded Saturday he was thinking about his father, Thomas, who was sitting in the stands in Cleveland while suffering from a serious heart ailment that required bypass surgery earlier this week.

Pettitte left the team Wednesday to be with his father in Houston during the surgery, and rejoined the Yankees on Saturday. His place as the No. 2 pitcher in the playoff rotation was taken by Orlando Hernandez, and Pettitte will not pitch until Game 4.

"I will never use that as an excuse," he said of his father's problems. "You have to be tough enough to handle whatever comes up on the mound."

But he did say he was a bit more relaxed after the double bypass was successfully completed.

"I'm feeling a lot better now, my Dad's doing real good," he said. "Before I left, he told me to go get ready to pitch. So that's what I'm going to do."

*

Sammy Sosa, who threw out the first pitch Saturday, was asked if he had spoken to Mark McGwire since the season ended.

"I've called him several times," Sosa said. "But he never answers because I always call collect."

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